Any new media report on China’s exploding wine market will come as no particular surprise to readers of this blog. And not only have I recently been seeing a lot of headlines about the Chinese love of Bordeaux, but there’s also been in the past year a major influx of reports on sharply rising wine sales in the country.
Earlier this week, though, the Associated Press reported on a new angle regarding China and wine: that ‘Asian women are having a profound impact on the evolution of the world’s fastest growing wine culture.’
Apparently, more women now are going into careers in the wine industry, filling seats in greater numbers than their male counterparts at sommelier schools in places like Bordeaux, France.
Jeannie Cho Lee, a wine critic and the first Asian to attain the coveted and notoriously difficult to get Master of Wine certification, was recently interviewed by Radio Australia and had some interesting thoughts to share on the subject.
When asked why she thought Asian women were making a mark, both as consumers and professionals in the industry, she pointed to higher disposable incomes for women as a whole, along with the effective marketing and branding of wine in the region to make it appear fashionable and also a healthier alternative to other types of alcohol.
And in terms of what this means for the dynamics of gender and the wine industry’s future in Asia, Lee explained that from what she knows, in the very high-ranking positions within the industry globally, it’s still men who dominate. However, she also pointed out that other than those top positions, there are now women in equal numbers to men across all levels—from the wine writer to critic to buyer to sommelier. And with it being such a fresh industry, I’d guess there’s still a lot of opportunity for some new and unexpected developments.